Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Going Southie

Had a great time sparring during panantukan on Monday. I kept switching up my guard and going southie. For those of you not familiar, "southie" or southpaw, means fighting in the opposite guard. This means right leg forward, since a normal boxing guard is left leg forward. What happens?

  • It confuses most opponent - especially those who have never fought a southpaw
  • you get a power punch jab from your lead hand right, which can do a lot of damage
  • lead hand hook becomes a very effective punch
  • The footwork and angles change, which can cause your opponent to walk into the left cross through force of habit
A good boxer should be comfortable in either guard. Once you are, you have greater control of your strategy during the fight, and can switch up to your advantage.

I suppose I should add that the man currently considered the best pound for pound boxer in the world, Manny Pacquiao, is also a Southie.

Turn left. Find out for yourself...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No Glove No Love

Man, I LOVE boxing. Last night I went to the White Collar Boxing event by Vanda Promotions at Suntec Convention Centre. It's a charity event to raise money for a Children's hospital in Cambodia - very noble cause.

Finance professionals sign up, train for 12 weeks at a boxing gym, and then slug it out in front of clients, colleagues, and well-wishers for three, 2-minute rounds. People get very fit during the 12 weeks, but I am not sure how much they learn about boxing...

Here's some points I feel the need to comment on.

1) the JAB
The most important punch in boxing. I hardly saw it, and when I saw it, I hardly saw it used properly. How do you use a jab?
  • check distance - if you can hit him with the jab, bring something else right after
  • unsettle opponent - every time your opponent stops moving, a jab should be right in their face
  • look for holes in the guard - the jab is a probing punch
  • faking - fake the jab to bring in a cross or hook

I did not see much good jabbing in the matches - shame.

2) The Hips
no hips -> no power. Simple. That's why no knockouts last night, despite some of the guys being 100 kg.

3) Lead the target
You should be punching where your opponent is going, not where he is. That is called leading. If you do not lead, you miss a high percentage of shots.

4) Leaning Away/Leaning Down
Anyone who does this deserves to get knocked out, sorry. NEVER bend at the waist except for the rockback (jab response). Especially bending forward is a sure way to take power from your punch and give your opponent the opportunity he needs to floor you.

5) Elbows in
lots of wide elbows/windmills last night. Most of those guys are lucky to be alive. All punches go straight except hooks.

6) Hooks
Very few hooks last night. This is a devastating up-close shot. I am surprised it wasn't used more. This wins a lot of pro fights.

7) Angles
The forward 45 is very important when your opponent closes guard on the ropes. If you don't take the 45 you cannot score when he is covered up on the ropes. You get tired, and then you are the one in danger. Angle in so your shots go around the elbows to the kidneys, or around the gloves to the head.

8) Finish off
Boxing is instinctive. You need the killer instinct to finish fights when the opportunity comes. Otherwise, you end up being the one on the canvas.

9) Get hit
During training, you need to get hit as much as possible to get over the fear of it.

Every time in the ring should feel the same, regardless of where you are. The bout should feel like the normal sparring session. If it doesn't, you need to spend more time in the ring until it does. The audience cannot knock the other guy out - only you can. Focus on what you have to do. Lower your shoulders, relax, and let er rip.

It takes a lot of balls to get in the ring. Make sure your mid-life crisis does not become a medical crisis...See you in the ring.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Rhythm of Life

Our new school has a stereo cool is that? We were using some music last night during drills, and often have it on for the Hilot-Chi Kung exercises. Training with music is really great for a lot of reasons:

1) it helps develop rhythm, timing, and flow
2) it can be used for deep breathing, meditation, and chi-kung exercises
3) it can provide a stimulating beat for cardio training

Martial Arts and music go way back. Two great examples are karenza (in Kali) and ginga (in Capoeira). The music provides a framework and pacing for the drills, and helps performers find the rhythm and flow in their movements. Many Filipinos recall traditional village dances that they learned as children and later discover that they are fighting movements disguised in the dancing. They were learning Kali and didn't even know it!

Many people use their ipods or other MP3 players in the gym. The dojo is another place where music can and should become an integral part of how you train. Footwork and timing are at the heart of good fighting, and music can help you find a "fighting rhythm", and discover your opponent's.

In the old days, we used to go clubbing/dancing on a Saturday night after class to work on our moves, distance, timing, and the like. People thought we were just there having fun...
It is true that you can be working on your martial arts all the time anywhere and everywhere, often without people knowing it.

let's BOOGIE!


Saturday, April 11, 2009


Can you believe it? A Serrada seminar in SINGAPORE!?!?

I have had only a few very brief glimpses of this style of Kali, and let me be very honest that this is at the heart of what makes the FMA so exciting. Serrada is done up close, my favorite place to be. Done well, this style is fast, fluid, and very, very hard to defend against. It requires you to stay in Corto, close distance, throughout. If you can do it, you stick to your opponent like glue, and they will not last long at that range.

Of course, a kalista should be comfortable at all ranges, in all planes, but for me it just doesn't get better than Serrada. Being up close and personal gives you the maximum chance to hit any target you want, and especially for shorter guys like me (168 cm tall), it negates (even restricts) larger opponents' reach.

Some might call Serrada the "straight blast" of Kali, similar to what Bruce Lee and his JKD disciples used to use when they wanted to get a fight over quickly. Serrada closes distance, and then your opponent just cannot get you off no matter what they do. Serrada will take them apart, from arms to body, and has stick, knife, and empty hand application. The only good news for opponents is that they get to die quick.

If you can make this seminar - DO. I cannot think of a better example of what Kali is all about than this. The content is for pros, but everyone will walk away with a new respect for how practical, efficient, and deadly Kali can be. For beginners, you will get to see one of the specialist areas of the training that you will fall back on again and again. Serrada will be a style that will become fundamental in your Kali.